Congress thought it had a chance to catch Michael Vick, but he lived up to his reputation of being elusive.

The Falcons quarterback was scheduled to lobby on Capitol Hill yesterday morning, hoping to persuade lawmakers to increase funding for after-school programs. But Vick missed a connecting flight in Atlanta and failed to show.

Vick's publicist, Susan Bass, said it wasn't his fault. The quarterback was in Tampa, Fla., on Monday to play in teammate Warrick Dunn's charity golf tournament, then caught a flight to Atlanta that was supposed to arrive in time for him to make another flight to Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia.

But the AirTran flight was late leaving Tampa, Vick missed his connection and wound up stuck in Atlanta, Bass said. "He was really mad," she said.

AirTran, which has an endorsement deal with Vick, gave a different account of Vick's travel arrangements. While acknowledging that the flight from Florida was late getting into Atlanta, causing him to miss his 8:35 p.m. connection, airline spokesman Tad Hutcheson said the player was booked on a 10:50 p.m. flight.

Vick failed to show, and the flight left Atlanta with about 20 empty seats, Hutcheson said.

Vick's mother, Brenda Boddie, accepted an award from the Afterschool Alliance on her son's behalf. The quarterback was honored for his foundation's work with after-school projects in Georgia and Virginia.

Noteworthy

* Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo denied the Bears have been involved in trade talks regarding disgruntled linebacker Lance Briggs.

Several reports claimed a handful of teams besides Washington have talked to the Bears about trading for Briggs, who is guaranteed $7.2 million by the Bears this season as their franchise player.

Briggs has asked to be traded or receive a long-term contract. The Redskins offered the Bears their sixth pick overall in the draft for Briggs and the Bears' 31st overall pick. The deal reportedly fell through when the Bears also wanted another player.

* Tampa Bay will release starting middle linebacker Shelton Quarles before the draft, general manager Bruce Allen announced.

* Cincinnati linebacker Caleb Miller and Indianapolis defensive end Josh Thomas each signed 1-year contracts.

* Former St. Louis offensive coordinator Bobby Jackson was hired by Miami as running-backs coach to replace Bobby Williams, who was fired last week. *